|This time with no mustache.|
Anyway, Siim Kallas, a peculiarly likable fellow. He is one of the chosen few who never age. Go back to those photos of Kallas from the IME project in 1987 and he looks exactly the same. He's even got the same dapper mustache, which would look odd on any other fellow, but seems to suit him, in fact, I am afraid to know what he looks like without his trademark vüntsid.
I caught him once at a Lennart Meri Conference where the moderator butchered his name, referring to the gentleman with the two 'i's as "Sim." "Sim this," and "Sim that." I cringed everytime he said it, but Siim (rhymes with scheme) didn't wince once. Instead he went on and on about something that I cannot remember but sounding very intelligent and using hand gestures that signaled his self confidence to the audience.
Siim did his part during the EU accession referendum in 2003 by urging Estonians into voting yes by summoning the ghost of Kekkoslovakia, a derogatory term for Finland in the post-war, pre-EU years, where the president had to phone Moscow before deciding anything, even if he wanted to take a piss. In following years, Härra Kallas flew away to Brussels to become a commissioner of something (vice president for mobility and transport, thank you very much) and Tartu Mayor Andrus Ansip became the new face of the Reform Party and has been for the past seven years, leading Kallas' political baby through two successful elections.
But Kallas has another a baby, a biological one. And these days in Estonia her face is everywhere. Kallas' baby is not really a baby anymore. Her name is Kaja and she is 35 years old and she is very pretty. Of course, she has a sterling CV with accomplishments as a lawyer and businesswoman, ambition, intelligence, but she also happens to look really good, which is why magazines just can't help but make Kaja Kallas their cover girl. For weeks (months?) it seems that she has appeared on the cover of all printed material in the nation. The stories about her feed an intense public interest.
"Could she be Estonia's first female prime minister?" one tabloid even ventured to ask. Hmm. Could she? Even people who despise the current leader have confessed to me. "If she would run, I would vote for her."
Given the public's dissatisfaction with Mr. Ansip and his party's sinking approval ratings (just a point or two over the opposition Social Democrats and Centre partisans in the most recent poll), this regular Estonian magazine browser here has begun to smell a PR offensive. With the stench of Silvergate, and whistleblower Silver Meikar's expulsion from the party (an event that Kallas publicly distanced herself from), the ship of the current government is taking on water. Party investors stand to lose state capture opportunities. And an aging statesman (and there could be no finer a term for Siim Kallas) could see his political legacy as architect of Estonia's perpetual number one party tarnished. We are left to wonder, can his daughter and true political heir bail them all out?